Varanasi
Varanasi by Partha Sarathi Sahana

Varanasi India – Places to Eat

There’s no other river in India that attract huger hordes of tourists and devotees to its shores than Ganges in Varanasi does. The multi-ethnic visitors could not but make an evident impact of the city’s culinary traditions. Food in this city is an experience like no other, with so many varieties of mouth-watering delicacies in every nook and corner – you’ll sure be spoilt for choice!

Dishes to try

There is a plethora of dishes special and unique to the city. Jalebi, kalakand, rabri, lal peda are some of the must-try sweet ordessert items. The reason we have mentioned sweets first is that Varanasi is mostly famous for its tradition of eating sweets after every religious ceremony.

Arguably the most popular sweet treat or mithai that you’ll find in almost every shop in Varanasi is the lawang lata, the staple snack of the city. Very much like a mixture of jalebi and samosa, lawang lata is loved by one and all. There’s not one local you’ll find in Varanasi who has not yet tried this delicacy.

Another note-worthy Varanasi specialty is the paan. Banarasi paan, made from betel leaf and covered with edible silver foil is renowned for its mouth-watering taste. It is usually eaten after a meal and is known to help in digesting the food. Banarasi paan is so famous that there are even several popular songs by Bollywood celebrities dedicated to it.

A special dish, kachori-sabzi, or fried pure with potato gravy, is the most wide-spread breakfast choice in Varanasi. It can be found in every eatery throughout the city and side-street shops sell it for mere INR 15.

Street Food and Markets

Tiny street-side stalls are also the address where you head to for some of the most delectable bite-sized portions of vegetarian dishes like samosas, kachoris, pani puri or kulhad chai (tea served in a terracotta cup). In fact, you’ll find more people eating at street joints than in high-end restaurants.

One item that people in Varanasi swear by is tamatar-chaat and there is no better place to taste it that at the very famous Kashi Chat Bhandar at Godowlia Chowk (about 4 km from Varanasi railway station). You will be treated with the most authentic and original tamatar chat there. If tamatar chat is not your thing, there is a host of other options to choose from as well.

Aloo tikki at Kashi Chat Bhandar is everyone’s next favourite. If you haven’t tasted their aloo tikki, then you probably don’t know what real aloo tikki tastes like. For INR 150 you can have a complete meal and leave with a satisfied stomach. They have seating upstairs if you mind the smoke from all the cooking downstairs.

About half a kilometre from Godowlia Chowk is Thatheri Bazar where you’ll find The Ram Bhandar, a famous street side shop for kachori, rabdi, jalebi and samosa. Kachori comes for INR 20 per piece and jalebi is INR 350 per kg.

Yet another great place where you can have sumptuous quick bites is Vishwanath Gali. We highly recommend you to visit the shop called Blue Lassi and have at least one or some of the 75 flavours of lassi or churned buttermilk. Don’t forget to try both sweet and salty flavours of lassi while you’re there. Keep in mind one thing though, after a glass or two of desi lassi you won’t have room for anything else to eat. As for how much you’ll have to spend – give or take INR 300 for two people should be more than enough.

Recommended Restaurants

One of the best areas to start your foodie’s adventure in Varanasi is Dashashwamedh Road or around it. Varanasi satisfies every kind of hungry stomach – be it is authentic Chinese food you’re craving for or traditional continental.

The first restaurant that comes to mind for its traditional Indian dishes is The Palate (Hotel Ramada Plaza JHV, The Mall, Cantonment, Varanasi). It is an absolute treat for the taste buds and we highly recommend you to visit this restaurant if you it is the taste of authentic Indian flavours you are after. Ordered lauki kofta, bhindi fry and dal makhani with lacchha parantha as a main dish and leave enough room for their very famous apple kheer for the dessert.

Another restaurant worth visiting is Poona & Eden Restaurant at Hotel Pradeep (Kabir Chaura Road, Lahurabir, Jaitpura). They have a wide selection of menu items to choose from. They specialise in North Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine and we highly recommend you to try their peshawari paneer tikka and rogan-e-nishat (a spicy mutton dish in Kashimiri flavours). You can have a meal for two for approximately INR 750.

Cafes and Coffee Houses

We also really like the Brown Break Cafe and German Bakery at Dashashwamedh Ghat for its amazing assortment of baked goods like breads, rolls and pizzas. The bakery is always very crowded mostly with international visitors. Ask to be seated at the rooftop and enjoy a beautiful view of the Ganges while eating some of the freshly baked items there. For hungry stomachs their lasagne is highly recommended. It’s absolutely lip-smacking!

Spicy flavours are not your thing? Then head to Niyati Cafe (Dashashwamedh Ghat). This is probably one of the best vegetarian cafes in Varanasi. It is a very cosy and small cafe that serves home-like food. The best thing we like about it is the huge portions of the meals they serve. A family of four can easily dine there for very reasonable INR 350-500.

If you’re a fan of South Indian food, then give a try to Dosa Cafe (Dashashwamedh Road). The cafe is owned and operated by a very welcoming couple and is relatively small. We ordered their famous cheese masala dosa along with hot masala chai and it was worth every penny spent. Chocolate dosa one of their specialties is what many guests swear by, too.

Last but not least, VNS Live Studio (Hotel Varuna, Ground Floor, 22 Gulab Bagh, Sigra) is also worth checking out. This is one of the very few cafes in Varanasi which has great live bands playing – though only on Sunday to accompany your food and drinks. They also have sheesha for the organic hookah lovers. We ordered chicken lollipop (INR 370) and crispy chilly potato (INR 250) as an appetizer and they were outstanding. For mains, we had paneer butter masala, dal makhaniz and lachcha parantha (INR 250 per dish) Although the cafe is a little pricey (expect to pay INR 1000-1200 for two), you do end up having a great time especially if you go there on Sundays to enjoy the live band.